Warplanes of the Luftwaffe Book Review

Warplanes of the Luftwaffe: A Complete Guide to the Combat Aircraft of Hitler’s Luftwaffe from 1939 to 1945

Edited By David Donald

Hardcover in dustjacket, 254 pages, index

Published by AIRtime Publishing, January 1997

Language: English

ISBN-10: ‎ 1-880588-10-2

Dimensions: ‎ 9.5 x 0.75 x 12.5 inches

The German Air Force operated a wide variety of aircraft types during the Second World War, Warplanes of the Luftwaffe documents the operational types.  Fans of “Luft 46”, experimental types, or “Napkinwaffe” should look elsewhere.  While I am not usually a fan of broad survey books, this one is an exception due to the high production values and subject matter.

The book is printed on glossy paper using a large format.  Each aircraft type is listed by manufacturer.  The text describes the developmental and service history, along with the variants and evolution of the design.  Well-captioned photographs, many in color, are included throughout.  This is supplemented by color profiles, large-format three-views, and cut-away drawings by John Weal.  To cover minor types such as the Heinkel He 51 this may take as little as half a page, while the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and Messerschmitt Bf 109 take fourteen pages each. 

AIRtime is the publisher of the World Airpower Journal and Wings of Fame series among other high-quality publications, editor David Donald brings all that expertise to bear on this work.  The artistic values are high throughout, with ample space given to the color profiles and cut-away drawings which gives the reader the ability to appreciate their quality.

This book is still in print, and is regularly available on the secondary market at a reduced price.  For the quality and quantity of information it is a bargain.  I return to my copy regularly; it is useful as a quick history and the artwork is an inspiration.  The cut-aways have often proven helpful in identifying the odd “thingy” or antenna commonly found protruding from combat aircraft.  In several cases the information in this book is more useful than that contained in a monograph devoted to a specific type – plus you get the rest of the Luftwaffe as a bonus.  If you have even a passing interest in Luftwaffe aircraft, this book should be in your library.